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Re: [all candidates] Removing or limiting DD rights?

On 2013-03-26 14:58, gregor herrmann wrote:
Thanks for this question, which I would like to extend a bit.
Im my understanding you are pointing to unconstructive behaviour
related to technical work. What we also see (and discuss) every now
and then is behaviour that is socially questionable or clearly
unacceptable (from disrespect for peers to blatant abusive language).

While we rarely take formal action, I think that the "social" standards we apply to each other have increased over the years. And my impression is that abrasive behaviour on the mailing lists or the main developer IRC channels has significantly reduced over the years.

The more negative social behaviour that I remembering seeing recently has tended to be in less visible places, for example in topic-specific development IRC and in replies to individual bug reports. Those who I saw behaving negatively may not have intended to be rude or aggressive or dismissive, but people who are trying to help us and receive a negative response in this way may be discouraged from further involvement in Debian -- a single person with negative social behaviour can scare off many potential contributors.

What other ideas do you (plural, for all candidates, in case you see
the necessity to improve the handling of "social problems") see as

The most pleasant way to reduce such problems is to ensure that visible teams set extremely high standards that others wish to emulate, but I realise that this won't solve every problem.

Looking at your list of ideas:

Examples that have come up in the past and might or might not be
- Encourage everyone to chime in when they see potentially
  unacceptable behaviour? In public/private?

Yes, as long as it is done in a spirit of being helpful and trying to help the person improve their behaviour, and not of trying to shame the person. How public or private depends on the details of the situation and the relationship of the person "chiming in" with the topic and with the person they see as behaving unacceptably, and I don't think it's a simple binary question -- but as the goal isn't to shame people, the default should tend towards saying something in private.

- Should we try to establish a Code of Conduct for project members?
  Cf. https://openhatch.org/wiki/Project_codes_of_conduct for
  If yes, how would we do this, and how could we make sure it gets
- Could the CoC for mailing lists
  be used as a starting point / be extended?
- Or Enrico's Debian Community Guidelines?

Certainly the existing mailing list Code of conduct is not especially respected or enforced. Perhaps people miss the final important points because they come after a long list of more technical ones.

I've previously done some research on companies' and professional organisations' written codes of behaviour. In my view the best ones don't try to set out rules but offer a handful of concise and memorable aspirations. A general "code of conduct" for Debian might be valuable, but then it should cover more than only "social" issues, and some more detailed guidelines would probably still be necessary in addition.

For an overall code of conduct, going through a formal process to adopt it might be part of the point of having one (both to make people think about it, and to increase the visibility of its adoption to people outside the project), but it's also useful to have more detailed guidelines that can be updated without formal agreement.

At the very minimum, more people should promote Enrico's Debian Community Guidelines -- they don't need any more official status for you to use and mention them, and thus influence other people to do the same.

- Another recurring topic is the Social Committee, cf. e.g.
  https://lwn.net/Articles/221077/ (or the ombudsman team mentioned
  in the article:
  https://lists.debian.org/debian-project/2007/01/msg00101.html )
  Would such a body make sense? With which powers?

I can see some positives from having this kind of Social Committee, but I'm unsure about the practicalities of creating one and keeping its membership updated. If we were ever to move towards an elected board, it might make sense for that group to take on this role as well as its other duties. In that case the problem of defining what "social" matters such a committee covered, and what powers it can use in response, would be avoided, and the question of membership would be reduced to a, by then, previously solved problem. While a general board wouldn't be selected purely for "social expertise", it seems to me that the overall composition of such a board would necessarily reflect the project's "social" aspirations.

Even without us working out how to give special powers over social matters to an appropriate group, a group like the proposed "ombudsman team" could certainly help in some cases. It could help even more if it was advertised as a contact point in some relevant places, as, for example, a path to reduce the possibility of offended potential new contributers walking away after they feel that they get a rude response.

Short summary: Does Debian need procedures for intervening in cases of
dysfunctional social behaviour and which?

Yes, and in effect we already have some. Clarifying them in some respects might be helpful (for example to avoid offended new contributors feeling helpless about it or assuming that Debian is just univerally rude), but equally I don't think that in "social" matters it makes sense to aim for a full and precise set of rules or a predefined universal procedure for dealing with them.


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